Strike Force (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Producer(s)||E. Duke Vincent
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Aaron Spelling Productions|
|Original release||April 2, 1981 – May 21, 1982|
Strike Force is an American action-adventure/police procedural television series that aired on ABC during the 1981–1982 television season, and was produced by Aaron Spelling Productions. The program starred Robert Stack as Capt. Frank Murphy, the leader of a special unit of specialized detectives and police officers whose job is to stop violent criminals at any cost (usually with a hail of gunfire). Mixing elements of Stack's classic TV series The Untouchables from 20 years earlier with doses of Mission: Impossible and Dirty Harry, the series immediately provoked controversy over its violence – at one point the series was labeled the most violent in American TV history – though the series attempted to interject liberal amounts of humor into its regular characters and balanced the violence by focusing on the detectives' personal lives.
- Series star Robert Stack's character, SCPD Det. Capt. Frank Murphy, is the head of the special Strike Force unit. He is a tough, incorruptible cop, tenacious and efficient on the job, but whose personal life is as unkempt as the home he lives in. He is a recent divorcé who is stuck with a house that was painted pink by his ex-wife, Eve, (who left him for a career in show business, but whom he still obviously loves dearly), where he lives with Sam, his scruffy, oversized, beer-drinking dog (whose main source of nutrition appears to be a brand of dog food labeled "Doggone It" ). He is as tough as nails, but caring and fair...and loyal to the people under his command. Capt. Murphy's favorite food was chili dogs (which he seems to "require" everyone on his team of "Strike Force" detectives to eat)...and his constant nemesis was the squad room soda machine, which seemed to work for everyone in the precinct but him...and is a running joke in the series.
- Det. Sgt. Paul Strobber, played by Dorian Harewood, is the only married member of the team, and the most serious; A loving family man, with a wife and young son, but easily the most fearless and dangerous Strike Force member on the street. He is like a coiled spring,ready to strike when provoked, as he did when his family was threatened by White Supremacists in the episode "The Outcasts" He likes to wear turtleneck sweaters instead of ties, and hates Murphy's chili dog diet, refusing to share in it.
- Det. Sgt. Rosie Johnson, played by former Australian teen singing star Trisha Noble, is tough, curvaceous, and beautiful...and very much a lady. She became a police officer after her husband went missing in Vietnam and enjoys making-and-deflecting- jokes about her bust size. She is crazy about Gunzer, and often tries to get him to notice her.
- Det. Lt. Charlie Gunzer, played by Richard Romanus, is the group's free- spending ladies man, with a dry, wicked sense of humor, who Rosie likes, but is afraid to tell him. He likes fast cars (in one episode he bought a Mercedes SL sports car )...and faster women, and looks upon the chaste Rosie as nothing more than a friend and colleague.
- Michael Goodwin plays Det. Sgt. Mark Osborne, the youngest member of the team...and clearly the most "normal" in this dynamic, yet dysfunctional group. Called "The Kid" by Gunzer, he is a dedicated police officer whose favorite food is chocolate chip cookies. He likes Rosie, and has asked her out at least once, but to no avail.
- Herb Edelman played Deputy Police Commissioner Herbert Klein,the immediate superior of the Strike Force, and a close personal friend to Capt. Murphy. A dedicated cop and family man, Herb was cited several times for valor in his early career, but seemed to have lost his taste for the violence in the streets, and now is content simply to stay behind a desk and wait out his time until retirement. He is also an amateur author,who often asked Murphy his opinion on the novels he writes, that strangely never seem to ever get published.
Although initially popular, the novelty of the series quickly wore off; only 19 episodes were produced, plus the 90-minute pilot. According to Todd Gitlin's 1983 book Inside Prime Time, Strike Force finished a dismal 76 out of 105 shows in the Nielsen ratings for the 1981–82 season. The first episode was released on video in North America in the late 1980s. Another factor in the series' demise was the competition: Strike Force was pitted by ABC against the successful CBS soap-opera Falcon Crest, which had, as its lead in, the then # 1 show on television, "Dallas".
As of 2015 there has been no official DVD release of this series, though there have been several requests for its release and bootleg copies have circulated in the "collectors market" for the last three decades since its cancellation.
Notable guest stars during the series run included:
- Actress Elizabeth Stack, Robert Stack's real-life daughter, played in the episode "Lonely Ladies".
- Paul Picerni, who played Stack's second-in-command, Agt. Lee Hobson, in The Untouchables, played a Doctor in the episode "The John Killers"
- Sam Melville, who co-starred in another Aaron Spelling cop series, The Rookies, played in the episode "Internal Affair".
- Eric Braeden, best known for his roles as Victor Newman on the soap opera The Young and the Restless, and as Hans Dietrich in the 1960s TV series The Rat Patrol, played in the episode "The John Killers".
- Jeanette Nolan played in the episode "Sharks".
- Paul Brinegar, known for his co-starring roles in T.V. series such as Rawhide, Wyatt Earp, and the Clint Eastwood film High Plains Drifter, played in the episode "Fallen Angel".
- Tab Hunter played a killer in the episode "Night Nurse".
- Joanna Cassidy guest-starred as Frank's ex-wife, Eve Murphy, in the episode "Turnabout" (which probably would have been a recurring role had the series continued).
- Raymond St. Jacques also played in the episode "Turnabout" as an FBI agent.
- Christopher Connelly, best known for the ABC series Peyton Place, played in the episode "Death Fare".
- Laurence Fishburne, future star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Matrix and its sequels (as Morpheus), and Academy Award nominee for What's Love Got to Do With It, played in the episode "Humiliation".
- Billy Drago, who would go on to play Frank Nitti in the feature film version of Stack's TV series, The Untouchables, played a killer in the 90-minute Strike Force pilot.
- Philip Michael Thomas, future star of Miami Vice, played in the episode "The Victims". Actress Lynne Moody played as twin sisters in that same episode.
- Richard Herd, best known in the science fiction community for his role in the 1983 NBC miniseries V and the 1984 sequel V: The Final Battle, as John, the Visitors' Supreme Commander, and on Star Trek: Voyager as Admiral Owen Paris, the father of Tom Paris, played in the episode "Kidnap". This episode was directed by Lawrence Dobkin, who portrayed gangster Dutch Schultz in 3 episodes of Stack's ABC series The Untouchables, and who also directed another Strike Force episode "Fallen Angel".
- Don Stroud played a mobster out to kill Murphy in the episode "Turnabout".
- David McCallum, best known for his co-starring roles in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and NCIS, played an international hit man with a long-standing grudge against Murphy in the episode "ICE".
- DeForest Kelley, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of Star Trek fame, was slated to play in the 21st Strike Force episode, "The Judge". (It is not known if this episode was ever filmed, or whether it was filmed, but never shown, in light of the series' cancellation).
- "Strike Force: Pilot" – November 13, 1981
- "Kidnap" – November 20, 1981
- "The Victims" – November 27, 1981
- "The Predator" – 12/4/1981
- "Magic Man" – 12/11/1981
- "Night Nurse" – December 18, 1981
- "The Hollow Man" – December 25, 1981
- "The Outcasts" – 1/8/1982
- "Ice" – January 15, 1982
- "Internal Affairs" – January 22, 1982
- "Lonely Ladies" – 2/5/1982
- "Fallen Angel" – 2/12/1982
- "Shark" – February 19, 1982
- "Turnabout" – February 26, 1982
- "The John Killer" – 3/5/1982
- "Humiliation" – March 19, 1982
- "Deadly Chemicals" – March 26, 1982
- "Revenge" – 4/2/1982
- "Chinatown" – 4/9/1982
- "Death Fare" – April 16, 1982
- Gitlin, Todd. Inside Prime Time. New York: Pantheon, 1983.
- Strike Force at the Internet Movie Database
- Strike Force at TV.com
- Strike Force pilot opening sequence (1981) with guest star Billy Drago- YouTube video
- "Straight Shooter" Robert Stack pounds a tough "Strike Force" beat-from People Magazine 1982- story by Kathy Mackay
- "Strike Force" episode guide-from The Classic TV Archive
- YouTube Video: Strike Force episode # 5 : "Magic Man" (1982)